If Tigers fall to Class 3A, expect lot of long trips

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, September 4, 2007

One can expect one of two things with next year's T.R. Miller Tigers football schedule.
It will either be one that has short-trip region games with long-trip non-region games or long-trip region games and short-trip non-region games.
Of course the answer to which one it will be hinges on where T.R. Miller falls in the upcoming Alabama High School Athletic Association reclassification, which will be announced later this fall.
T.R. Miller figures to be sitting on the Class 3A-4A bubble. Early enrollment figures had the school with a state count of 288 students. The state count includes seniors, juniors, sophomores and repeat freshmen. Hamilton is the smallest 4A school in the current classification at 288 students. Geneva begins 3A with 285 students.
If T.R. Miller falls to Class 3A, football fans can once again expect plenty of long road trips like the ones they experienced during the 2004-05 seasons. During that time when T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal both competed in Class 3A, both schools had five region opponents (Abbeville, Slocomb, Dale County, Headland and Pike County) that were located 100 miles away or farther.
While the state could again ship T.R. Miller east in a new 3A region, it could also easily ship the Tigers northwest. The likely place would be region 1, which currently includes Clarke County, Central-Hayneville, Choctaw County, Francis Marion, Mobile Christian, Sumter County and Washington County. Clarke County would be the closest road trip at 70 miles. All other schools in that region are at least 100 miles away or farther. The Montgomery area where private schools Montgomery Academy and Montgomery Catholic reside might also be an option for the state as well as triple-digit road trips.
The good news for Riggs is if the Tigers fall into 3A, he should not have much problem filling his three non-region dates.
One of those non-region dates will be Murder Creek rival W.S. Neal, which figures to be locked into another two-year stint in Class 4A. The annual rivalry game is currently played in week nine since both schools are currently in the same region. The game would likely move to week 10, the final week of the regular season, if T.R. Miller goes to 3A. That is the place the game was located on the schedule before the schools moved into
the same class and same region starting with the 2002 season.
Another likely non-region foe for T.R. Miller would be Escambia County, another county rival and an opponent just 30 miles down the road. Escambia County and T.R. Miller had been week one opponents before both schools moved into the same class and same region back in 2006. The two schools could once again put that game back in the week one slot or it could move to week five.
Either way, that would leave T.R. Miller with just one non-region spot to fill on its schedule. Andalusia or Monroe County, both located within an hour's dive, would figure to be high on Riggs' calling list for that final spot.
On the flip side, T.R. Miller could have some sizeable trips for non-region games if it stays in Class 4A. The Tigers are currently playing Straughn (60 miles), Clarke County (70 miles) and Trinity (120 miles) as non-region foes. T.R. Miller could have a tough time finding non-region opponents within 100 miles if the Straughn and Clarke County series are not renewed.
There is a chance reclassification could give T.R. Miller a hand with shorter non-region road trips if it stays 4A. Current region roommates Escambia County (30 miles) and Monroe County (40 miles) figure to be sitting on the Class 4A-5A bubble. If one or both of those schools go to 5A, they would be possible non-region opponents.